We did get our phone call from Acres of Hope today, but it wasn't to tell us our case was finalized in the Liberian courts. Instead, it was to tell us that we aren't going to be able to adopt JJ at all.
JJ's father returned to the orphanage and removed him from the program. He was under a lot of pressure from his family, especially his sister, to not go through with the adoption. One of the staff members from AOH visited with the family and explained that this case was at the final stages in the courts, and that our family has been preparing for JJ to be a part of our family, but their minds were made up.
In the beginning, we were told that JJ's father was injured during the war and lost his leg. Being disabled, he had been unable to provide for his son, so he and JJ's mother came together to relinquish him to the orphanage for adoption. I thought that since both parents were together and in agreement to the adoption, that we were safe from this happening again. I've been worried that the anti-adoption propaganda floating around Liberia might cause problems. I'm not sure if that was the case here, but I think it might be. I pray that they will be able to take care of him. Hopefully, the extended family that was so against the adoption will be able to help care for him.
Karissa, my wise beyond her years little girl, listened to me tell her that JJ would not be able to be a part of our family. She gave me a back rub and said, "Mommy, all of the things that have gone wrong for our adoptions aren't bad things."
I asked her what she meant, and she said, "They are good things because now they don't have to leave their families."
I know that this news will be frustrating to our friends and family members who care so much about us. I don't have a lot of answers to the questions I'm sure you have. When Rachel called today, she was in tears right along with me, and was just as frustrated that this could happen to us again.
I'm not sure I understand exactly how things work, but I think the children in the orphanage are wards of the state. The orphanage provides shelter and helps to facilitate the adoption, but they are like foster parents, and are accountable to the Ministry of Health. I don't know if they have the authority to not return a child when the birth family comes back, even if they have gone through the relinquishment process. I think they see themselves as a humanitarian organization and can't keep a child that parents want back regardless of where we are at in the process.
At least, I think this is how it is.
I do know that the staff meets with the adults bringing the children to the orphanage three times before they allow them to leave them at the orphanage. They explain what adoption means and make sure they understand and have time to think about it before they will take the children in. Then they do all the relinquishment paperwork ahead of time, and then they give the referral and start the process. These precautions don't keep lost referrals from happening, though. I don't know how to fix the problem. I guess it is just the risk you have to be willing to take. I don't want to adopt a child that a family wants to raise themselves. I just want a child who needs us to be his family.
Pat and I aren't sure what we want to do next. If we accept a new referral, it will take approximately 6 months for this new adoption process to be complete and that puts us right at my due date for the baby. If we continue, we will have to update our immigration fingerprints and documentation and our homestudy, because these will expire soon. Please pray for us to have discernment about where to go from here.